«Everyone is waiting for the good changes. All I can do is wish for them to come true, no matter who is responsible». Phyu Tazin Soe (born 1990) doesn’t care about politics. Her biggest dream is to be an artist. She now has her own tattoo studio, in her parents house.
For Thu Wai (born 1988), life is all about skateboarding. His dream is to have a sponsor, so that he can live of what he loves the very most. «Here in Yangon, I’m free. I have no worries, I can do whatever I want!» Thu Wai claims.
Rehearsal rest. Ye Ngwe Soe (born 1986) has an own entrance to his two floor bed&band room, away from dissapointed parents. Before democracy, his songs had to wait six months for the censorship process, now «No U Turn» can release tunes whenever they want. Ye Ngwe Soe dreams about dedicating his whole life to music.
Ku Kue (born 1988) is a grafitti artist, designer and femisist. In her parents house in Dalla Township accross the river of Yangon, she shares a small bedroom with her only brother. Her «sisters» are outside the family, in the two women rights oranisations she’s working for. «Empowerment is really important!» sais Ku Kue. She makes arts and design to inform women about their rights. Before the opening of Myanmar, this would be impossible to release.
Moe Myint (born 1988) is resting. Some days, a few minutes on the monastery floor is just nessecary, to be able to calm his mind. Instead of solving his own problems, the former monk’s days are spent all over town to help solving other people’s problems. It provides good karma. «If I’m a painter, a teacher, a musician, no problem! My dream is just to find a good way for my life, doing good things for others».
When they were born, Myanmar was on fire. The streets were full of tens of thousands of protesting students, willing to sacrifice their lives for the people. The students of the 8888 uprising lost their fight for democracy, the 8th of August 1988. Against the government they had no chance. Not even when Aung San Suu Kyi was chosen leader for the movement. She, and countless of others, were arrested.
That was in 1988.
I’m so proud of being born that year!
In low sunlight and burning heat, Thu Wai is cruising through the small, ran-down skate park in the afternoons, and Yangon’s nightlife in the evenings. The 25 year old has dyed his hair orange, and wears brand clothes and skateboard shoes.
- People say that those born in 88 are angry, and not that smart.
Thu Wai laughs. He just finished school, and has no job. He lives for skateboarding. Everyday happenings are shared with the world on facebook, through his brand new iphone. Life is sponsored by dad’s oil salary from Naypidaw, the capital.
Thu Wai was 16 and alone when he first discovered skateboarding. Today he’s the leader of a skateboard club in Yangon. His biggest concern is that a government registered club, soon may have more members than his own.
-I don’t like rules. In our club we don’t have rules. We’re just having fun and enjoying the freedom of skateboarding.
Today Myanmar is an open country. Almost. The government calls it a «diciplined democracy». Aung San Suu Kyi and the students of 88 is out of house arrest and are still fighting for democracy. The young grown ups, born in and around 1988, have dreams about being rock stars, artists, rich and famous. The western culture is more and more visible, and with it, individualism. Still, some young people are more like the students of the 8888 uprising. They have continued the fight, and will not give up.
A group of young men in red robes are strolling along the asfalt, between small, wooden houses. Moe Myint is not like them, not anymore. It was when he got out of jail, that he decided not to live as a monk anymore. For days, he and thousands of other monks had marched the streets for their country. The people were starving and the government did nothing about it. The Saffron Revolution got attention internationally, but at the time that didn’t help. In stead, the police broke into and destroyed hundreds of monasteries, and arrested their monks. In a small room, pitch dark and intensely quiet, all Moe Myint could hear was the dripping. The chinese torture method in jail made him depressed, and for a while without memory.
Now he stands tall, smiling and calm. Moe Myint meditates three times a day to avoid stress. Life has served a few challenges. As an orphan, he grew up in a monastery. An elderly monk told him: «You are a survivor. You will use your life to help others». And so it was, even if he belongs to a small ethnic group. As many others in Myanmar, he’s without identification papers and can’t move freely in his own country.
- I’m scared of the government, but they can’t make my decisions. This is why I want to protest.
by Kristine Lindebø